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What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral Palsy Is...

A condition marked by impaired muscle coordination (spastic paralysis) and/or other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth.

Is cerebral palsy progressive?

Cerebral palsy itself is not a progressive disease. The conditions and disabilities that can arise from cerebral palsy may improve, worsen or remain unchanged with time.

Is cerebral palsy contagious?

Cerebral palsy is not contagious. It is not a disease and should not be considered as such. Cerebral palsy is caused by injury suffered near the time of birth. There is nothing to be feared by being near someone with cerebral palsy.

Can cerebral palsy be acquired later in life?

You cannot acquire true cerebral palsy later in life. There is a form of palsy similar to cerebral palsy that can be caused by traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls, child abuse and brain infection.

Can cerebral palsy be prevented?

Cerebral palsy may be prevented. Pregnant women that test Rh negative may be immunized to avoid bad effects of blood incompatibility with the child. Exchange transfusion can also prevent blood incompatibility with the newborn. If a child has jaundice, phototherapy (medical use of ultraviolet light) can prevent brain damage. Preventing viral infections, radiation exposure, drug abuse, anemia and malnutrition in pregnant women is important. Equally important is protecting children from brain trauma after birth.

What happens when the child matures?

When thinking of the future for a child with cerebral palsy, it is important that parents keep a positive attitude, just as one would with any child. It is equally important to understand the child's abilities. A parent's hopes are likely a mix of realistic and unrealistic dreams for the child; professional help can enable the parent to adopt realistic goals.

Often, a communication breakdown can occur when parents and health care experts discuss living with cerebral palsy. Improved communication between parents, physicians and educators can enable a child to function at his or her utmost capability. Defining potential and ability is most critical during the teenage years and beyond, when the patient's abilities are clearer to everyone involved.

If your child has suffered a birth injury before, during or shortly after birth, contact an attorney experienced with cerebral palsy and other birth injuries to discuss your legal rights.